French telecoms provider Iliad is reportedly panning to join negotiations over a potential network-sharing agreement with fellow French cellcos, local newspaper Les Echos reports. According to the article, Iliad, which operates its mobile services under the Free brand, allegedly sent a letter to Vivendi’s telecoms arm SFR and rival mobile operator Bouygues Telecom, requesting a permission to join the ongoing discussions between the two companies to share parts of their mobile infrastructure in France. Iliad executive reportedly stated: ‘A deal between two of the three operators of incumbent mobile networks that does not leave room for the fourth operator could be a major destabilising factor’.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Bouygues confirmed that it had resumed talks with rival SFR over the possibility of sharing their network infrastructure in rural areas of France back in December 2012. The two companies had been in network sharing discussions since early-2012, although those negotiations ended without a deal being reached. In July 2013 SFR and Bouygues entered in exclusive negotiations to share parts of their mobile infrastructure. Both companies hope to come to a definitive agreement by the end of 2013, and the arrangement will allow them to increase their geographic coverage and generate significant savings in the deployment of network equipment. However, both companies are reportedly aiming to preserve completely independent commercial presence.